I made a rookie-type mistake planting my sweet corn. After planting my Dad’s field corn, I changed the population from 30,000 plants per acre down to 20,000 plants per acre, and I cleaned out each of the four seed hoppers in my John Deere 7200 planter.
I’ve owned this corn planter for over five years, and I’ve cleaned out the hoppers the same way every time, (dumping them upside down several times), but this time one of the hoppers had quite a bit of corn stuck down inside where I couldn’t see it. Furthermore, when I started planting, that row was plugged and corn was not coming out. Luckily, the monitor tells me when a row isn’t planting, so I wouldn’t have planted the whole field with a missing row.
I unplugged the row and finished planting the whole field, stopping once to add another variety of sweet corn. I planted two varieties this year, both supersweet, but with different maturities. I noticed there was more corn in the second hopper, but figured that must have been because it didn’t plant that one time across the field.
Fast-forward to a couple of months later. I noticed that the rows of corn were developing differently, but figured that must have been the difference in variety. Then we had a summer storm with strong winds. Most of the corn was bent over from the strong wind, but some of the rows were not affected. I still figured it was due to varietel difference.
Finally, when the corn started tasseling, with the taller rows not tasseling, a light bulb went on and I realized what had happened. The tall rows were my Dad’s field corn. The next thought I had was, “Oh no, my sweet corn is ruined.” You see, supersweet corn needs to be isolated from other types of corn or the sugar in it turns to starch and it tastes terrible. This happened once with our sweet corn when I was a kid, and it was inedible.
But then I realized that the sweet corn was tasseling, but the field corn was not. So if the sweet corn could pollinate before the sweet corn tasseled, I would be fine. I could have detasseled all the field corn to be safe, but you know me, my curiosity comes before my success. So now we wait and see.
Next year I know exactly what I will do differently. I’m going to upend each hopper, removing all the visible corn. Then I will put the planter in the ground somewhere out of the way, and plant any remaining seeds until the monitor tells me each row is empty.
On a side note, you can see the pumpkin and squash is growing gangbusters. In the foreground you can see a new purchase I made: Racoon Net from Premier fence. The three-strand electric fence I always made in the past helped, but didn’t completely keep the raccoons out of the sweet corn. I’m hoping this netting works better, and I’ll try to remember to let you know how it does.